Release Date 3/22/11
01. Invitation (ft. Brother Ali)
03. Victorious People (ft. Freeway)
04. Drop It On The 1
05. It’s Goin’ Down (ft. Jacob Hemphill from Soja)
06. I Used To Be A Vegan
07. Rockit Man (ft. Silk E)
08. Be A Father To Your Child
09. Healing Of The Nation
11. Plead The Fifth (ft. Codany Holiday, Fashawn, & Casual)
12. Test of Time (ft. Marty James)
13. Journey to Forever (ft. Mystic & Eric Rahmney from Rebelution)
14. Like A G (ft. Los Rakas)
“We are lost, but what we are not is alone…” is the reality politely spoken by the sincere Brother Ali on the opening track and introduction to this incredible album and second offering by Zion I and The Grouch, Heroes In The Healing Of The Nation. I must say that Zion I is on quite a roll with their release Atomic Clock being such a great well-rounded record and then following up months later with this album. It is obvious that there is a higher purpose and mission with this music. More of a goal or mission even, in fact, they are answering a call to duty, calling all to action, to understand and to be a part of the healing of a nation. A sophomore release from the collaborative following the highly acclaimed Zion I & Grouch release Heroes In The City Of Dope , proves an appropriate next step once one has faced and have come to grips with their reality. These men are serious, this is no pseudo-conscious quasi-intellectualism that seems to infest Twitter timelines and Facebook statuses. This is real. What does someone do once they confront the unwavering truth that they are from a city of dope? What they are supposed to do…heal the nation.
After an appropriately poetic waxing on the day’s condition by Brother Ali, we move into the head nod factor number one, “Leader”. Since the smoggy sulfuric airwaves we call radio and popular music make our children recite garbage and self depreciating nonsense, it’s only right that the bright voiced children on this chorus sing “I’m a leader, I don’t want to be a follower” as a chant or mantra. Amp Live does a perfect job as usual of making your head nod as to instantly agree with a truth often ignored. The music on this album is hard hitting, well layered, and filled with music, passion, love and spirit. Zion I always does an excellent job with mixing genres, cultures, backgrounds and experiences. We see this has there are appearances by Roy Ayers, Mystic, Jacob Hemphil from Soju, Fashawn, Heiro’s own Casual, Los Rakas and Eric Rahmney from Rebelution as well as other like Freeway who was the perfect addition to “Victorious People”. The following song to “Leader” keeps pace and energy with aggressive snare and a regal chin lifting powerful chorus that makes you more than proud, it gives strength.
The great thing about this album is that just as the title is to heal a nation, the songs aptly follow suit with varying subject matter. We discuss life’s tribulations on the reggae and trumpet scented “It’s going down” featuring Jacob Hemphil from Rebelution. This reggae vibe is also continued on Journey to Forever featuring Mystic & Eric Rahmney from Rebelution. We touch on nutrition on “Used to be Vegan”, which discusses health and eating right as well as poking fun at the skepticism often associated with the actual effectiveness of the diet, “Blueberry, POM, Goji, Acai drinks/ do they give you energy or just make your pee stink”. The tracks humorous tone brings a bit of comic relief to the album. As a father of a beautiful little girl, the song “Be a Father” with vibraphone by Roy Ayers has a resounding quality for me. In a time where the fathers presence does not echo in homes filled only with a mother’s love and mounding responsibility, this song is necessary. It closes with a joyful Roy Ayers giving a shout out and closing the song with “…be a father to your child. We will heal the nation with that. Thank you very much.”
Right after all of that calming jazz we get re-energized with the semi-titled track “Healing of a Nation”. A mosh pit inducing track with heavy bass and distorted rock guitar and message makes you want to punch a tea bagger in the face making them go to the hospital only to be hit with an enormous bill later because they didn’t have full coverage due to the fact that a recently discovered root canal was considered a preexisting condition. The haunting nature of “Frankenstein” makes it one of my favorites as the chorus sings the disgust of now with “It’s up to you and me, we made a monster and we set it free, yea”. Yea, we sure did. On a song that could very well receive rotation, we see a lighter side on “Test of Time” featuring vocals by Marty James where we experience another often forgotten aspect of the healing of a nation, which is how we deal with and approach our women. The aggression and built up angst of our urban communities is expressed on “I Plead the Fifth” with Codany Holiday on vocals and Fashawn and Casual providing great energy and perspective of the people in these communities. We even hear Spanish on the ending bass heavy track “Like a G” from the visiting Los Rakas.
There isn’t much of a downside to me or obvious short comings in songs. I find that with a group like Zion I and a project like this, downsides will come from one’s own tastes. One may not like the eclectic nature of the album or if you are new to The Grouch his unique tone and style may take a listening or two to become accustomed to. Or, if you’re looking for a straight “hip hop” sound versus overall song quality you may not like several tracks, but if you can look past the top 40 and ultra underground you will be greatly satisfied and enjoy this album. The hardest part about reviewing this is compounding my thoughts as with a project this varied the songs, many times, take an identity all their own.
This album brings passion and breaks down the insurmountable concept of healing a nation into pieces we all can attain, giving us power needed to all heal the nation because it will take all of us. We must all be the heroes and as Brother Ali so perfectly stated in the album’s intro:
“Our heroes are us. The only super power required is love…so we invite you to become heroes in the healing of a nation”
Will you accept the invitation?
-Review: Zion I & Grouch – Heroes In The Healing Of The Nation | aboveGround Magazine